If you take a step back, you can see a similar process of ferment across the Muslim world these days. Muslim parties and their allies have suffered election setbacks over the past several years in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and Pakistan. The most extreme group of all, al-Qaeda, has alienated former supporters everywhere it has tried to put down roots.
The reasons for these political setbacks vary from place to place. In some countries, Muslim radicals have overreached and created a public backlash; in others, they have been seen as timid and corrupt. But there’s a common theme: “The Muslim parties have failed to convince the public that they have any more answers than anyone else,” says Marina Ottaway, the director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
President Obama was right to speak carefully about the events in Iran during the first week of protest. But it’s time for him to express his solidarity with the Iranians who are so bravely taking to the streets each day. He can do that without seeming to meddle if he chooses his words wisely.